Summer Programming



Finding Performers

CTLS Performers List – Go to for an extensive list of  free programs as well as professional performers.

Free and Volunteer Presenters

  • State parks. Most have educational programs.  Ask if they’ll hold one in your library – or at least a demo.  They can advertise their activities at your library and can tell folks about the library when they hold their events at the park.
  • County Road Crew. Hold a “large equipment petting zoo” where kids get to look at dumpsters, road graders, bobcats, etc.  Road crews never get asked to do this and are usually delighted to be asked.
  • Scout groups. Boy Scouts (camping, canoeing, setting up a tent, cooking, bike safety) or Girl Scouts (I’m not as familiar with them but they have lots to offer)
  • Church puppet groups. Avoid religious stories.
  • High school groups. FFA, drama department, music (band, choir), science clubs, robotics…  Talk to the high school counselor to see if any groups of kiddos need service hours and can showcase their talent.
  • Local business demonstrations. Businesses may be interested in showcasing their classes like karate, yoga, dance, outdoor activities, hardware stores (basic tool info is very cool).  Check your Chamber of Commerce directory for ideas.
  • Local museums. You could provide a program there and they could bring one to the library
  • Partner with local events. Contact them to see if their special performers/talents can come to the library the same day.
  • College speaker’s bureaus – Many have free speakers, most for adults but some for children/teens.
  • Organizations and Clubs. Think of organizations and nonprofits that are in your community. Some examples include Greyhound Rescue, other animal rescue groups, wheelchair athletes, amateur astronomers, rock collectors, and gardening clubs.
  • Community Members and Patrons. You may have people in your community that would love to come and share their interests and expertise. Some subjects could include a travelog, bonsai, flower arranging, cake decorating, bicycle repair, skateboarding, history, chess, or art.

Tips for Hiring a Performer

Many libraries hire special performers, especially for kick-off and finale events for their summer reading program.  Here are some tips on hiring a performer for your library, reprinted with permission from Kansas storyteller, Priscilla Howe (

  • Contact the performer by phone or e-mail well ahead of the intended performance. For the summer, many performers are booked up by March or April. Don’t despair if you haven’t done your booking by then—sometimes a performer is happy to fill in an available date.
  • Here are some specific questions to ask the performer. These may depend on your situation:
    • Are you available on X date, at X time?
    • What is your fee? Does this include mileage and expenses?
    • Are you comfortable working with preschoolers?
    • Do you have references?
    • Do you have or need a microphone?
    • Can you work outdoors if need be?
    • Do you need any particular set up? Do you need a table? How much space do you need?
    • What is the name we need to put on the check?
    • Do you have a standard contract, or would you prefer that we send a letter of confirmation?
    • Please send a short description of your performance and a black and white photo (or .jpeg, as the case may be) for publicity.
    • Do you have a short introduction you’d like us to use?
  • Tell the performer the library policy on payment (on the date of performances, within a month after performances, in advance, etc.).
  • If you need the performer’s social security number or tax id number, ask for it at the time of the contract.
  • If your library has a policy against sales in the library, be sure the performer knows. Many have recordings or books and welcome the chance to sell them.
  • Double check all contracts/letters of confirmation to be sure the salient details are correct. Be sure the address of the venue is included (especially important if the venue is not the library).
  • A week before the performance, contact the performer again to double check and ask if there are any questions.
  • Ask the performer to arrive 30 minutes early. This saves you thinking you’ll have to come up with a program on the spur of the moment.
  • When the performer arrives, introduce yourself by name. Remember, you know who the performer is, but he or she may not know you.
  • Introduce the performer briefly. By doing this, you build enthusiasm for the performance and you also have the opportunity to make any library and housekeeping announcements.
  • At the end of the performance, lead the audience in thanking the performer. This lets everyone know the session is over.

More Money Saving Ideas

  • Work the discounts. Some performers will give a discount if they do two performances in the same or nearby communities.  Share costs with neighboring libraries, local schools, library, church, museum or civic groups.  Plan a morning show for children at the library, an afternoon at the high school and an evening lecture at the museum. Many performers also present programs for teens and for adults, including lectures, educational programs for schools and museums, and teacher training.
  • Tell your city leaders. Every town has special events.  Take this performer info and pass it on to your Chamber of Commerce, schools, PTA, Rotary Club, museum, etc.
  • Think year round. Book a performer for a special holiday show, school program, community event, or museum fund raiser.
  • Find a sponsor. Let a local business be the sponsor for a program.  The local literary club might sponsor an author or storyteller visit.  The feed store might sponsor a visit from a reptile/animal show.  A local bank might want the “naming rights” to your kick-off or grand finale.  The Kyle Community Library’s entire yearlong storytime program is sponsored by a local bank.  As advertisement, the library puts up a sign during the program.  And yes, the sign was paid for by the bank.
  • Get a grant. You can get up to 50%  of some performer’s fees paid through the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities Texas.  Check it out at and  At TCA, contact Anina Moore at 512- 936-6573. Deadlines: November 1, 2010 (for activities occurring Dec 15, 2010 – March 14, 2011), February 1, 2011 (for activities occurring March 15 -June 14, 2011), May 1, 2011 (for activities occurring June 15 -August 31, 2011), August 1, 2011 (for activities occurring Sept 1 – Dec 14, 2011)
  • Think beyond children. Remember that many performers also present programs for teens and for adults, including lectures, educational programs for schools and museums, and teacher training.

Collaborative Summer Library Program

In order to continue to provide cost-effective summer reading programs, the State Library has joined with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) on behalf of libraries throughout Texas.  The CSLP consists of a grassroots consortium of all 50 states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults.  The State Library has had requests for an adult summer reading program in the past, so working with CSLP will be bonus for those libraries wanting to expand to reach the entire family as the program includes not only children’s and teen elements, but also an early literacy component and an adult program.

Manual Access

Stay Connected


Here’s a brief outline of how most libraries start their planning:

October – November

Order your SRP supplies by mid November with the Texas State Library. You only have one opportunity to order supplies free of charge through the Texas State  Library.

Review previous summer.  What worked and what didn’t?

Set your budget.  Will you pay for reading incentives and special program presenters?  What about craft supplies, printing and special events?  How about seasonal staff or youth volunteers?

Book performers.  They book up quickly, especially the good ones. Many libraries begin booking performers in the fall.


Continue booking performers.

Get trained.  Attend the CTLS reading club workshops.  You can also attend workshops at the Texas Library Association conference in April.


Order your incentives, if you choose to give any, and craft supplies.  Two great places are and Rhode Island Novelty at


Order books for your collection to support the theme.

You should receive your printed materials (handbook, posters, reading logs, bookmarks and certificated) by the end of March.

Solicit donations from local businesses.

Plan your programs.  Set your dates, sketch out special and weekly events.


Round up volunteers.  These can be adults or teens.  All require training.  Background checks are a good idea.

Prepare publicity.  Prepare posters, flyers, bookmarks and press releases.  Include updates to your website.  Ideas are in your manual.

Set up school visits.  Book your school visits for May.


Print calendar, flyers and press releases.  Give out to patrons, community groups, schools child care centers and the media

Visit schools.  Hand out flyers or bookmarks after the visit.

Hold staff and volunteer orientation.  Buy extra treats for the library staff.  Your programs will bring in lots of families (translation:  lots more work for the staff).  Chocolate is always a good idea.

Decorate the library.  This is a great volunteer activity.


Hold your summer program.  Some libraries hold reading clubs that are two weeks long.  Others go the whole summer.  Choose what’s best for your community.

Take lots of pictures.


Send thank you notes to donors, Friends, volunteers and library staff.

Compile stats.  Post them in the library, at library board meeting and in the media.  Fill out State Library’s stat form.

Send final press release.   Include pictures!

Evaluate program.  Save notes for next year.

Order reading club materials for next summer.

Take a break.  You deserve it.

Central Texas Library System, Inc.